Report by David Millachip
LYMM continued their good form with a bonus point 10-38 win at Rossendale.
The previous night’s rain threatened to favour the hosts at their Marl Pits ground, noted for its water retention properties. Despite this however, the players had an excellent playing surface and it was the spectators who had to negotiate the waterlogged pitch surrounds.
Lymm had never won here at Level 5, their sole victory was in a Level 6 match more than 10 years ago. There were a few changes to last week’s Lymm squad: Gav Woods was rested with a nagging calf injury; Joe Denman took a knock in training on Thursday. Jordan Widdrington started at tighthead and Matty Hand came onto the bench, the young Lymm squad, with its three teenagers, also welcomed to the bench, the return of Ben Rees after a lengthy injury absence.
The omens were not good as Lymm captain, Adam Bray, almost unrecognisable in black scrum cap following his previous week’s head injury, managed to lose the toss and hear Rossendale say, “Well, you can start off playing down the hill”. From the kick-off Lymm took possession and moved the ball swiftly into the home 22. A scrum 5m out allowed ever sharp, scrum half Andy Davies’ quick hands to get the ball out to full-back Cormack Nolan who came in on a great line to touch down by the right hand post in the first minute. He added the conversion for a 0 – 7 lead.
Key features of coach Adam Fletcher’s side this season has been; expansive play; pace and superb defence organisation. The pack is not the biggest in the League but quick and mobile. It was no surprise when, after 10 minutes, from a scrum in their own 22, Davies broke across the gain line and passing to Matty Connolly who made ground down the left touchline before passing inside. Fast, safe hands, moved it right before lock Connolly took the final pass, scoring out on the right, 0 – 12.
Territorially, Rossendale had the upper hand in the first half, the game being played between the half-way and the Lymm 22. But that was as far as they got against Lymm’s rock solid defence. Lymm were patient, soaked up Dale’s attacks and waited for errors from the home side. On 35mins, whilst down to 14 men, following a Yellow for No 10 Scott Redfern, they were soon rewarded. A spilled ball was picked up by Tom Bray and seconds later Lymm were in the home 5m area battering at the line before Sam Mullarkey touched down and Nolan Converted, 0 – 19.
Four minutes later, Lymm earned a 4 try bonus point. Following another break by Tom Bray, Richard McEvoy chipped over the Rossendale defence enabling full back Cormack Nolan to sweep round and dot down out on the right. He then countered the stiff and wet wind with a superb kick from the touchline to make it 0-26 at half-time
The Rossendale faithful were fulsome in their praise of the visitors with comments of Lymm being the most entertaining side they had come up against this season and fully deserving of their 26 point lead, one of them even adding that they could have been further behind but for the adverse weather being on their side !. A very fair summary of Lymm’s style and first half dominance.
Lymm now faced the difficult task of a second half playing up the steep slope and Rossendale seeing their opportunity of sweeping aside the opposition in the next 40 minutes. They were to be sorely disappointed. After 50mins, Connolly was held up as he drove forward in yet another multi-player move but No, 8 Olli Higginson, swept round to gather the recycled ball and place it down wide on the right for a spectacular team try. The most difficult of Nolan’s afternoon’s kicks hit a post and bounce back, 0 – 31.
Rossendale, despite the possession gained from their forwards and enterprising strong running by the backs were finding it extremely difficult to penetrate Lymm’s defence. Penetrate they did however on the hour mark from the half-way line and crossed the line on the right, 5 – 31.
An entertaining passage of play now ensued with both sides moving the ball slickly about but yet another Lymm scintillating move on 62 minutes saw Richard McEvoy add his name to the score sheet outpacing the defence to swoop on a kick ahead and running in under the posts. Nolan converted, 5 – 38.
Rossendale still had 4 tries in their sights and crossed the line again in the 75th minute for their 2nd try. A conversion attempt was declined, 10 – 38. On 79 minutes, in the gathering gloom on the Rossendale line, Lymm denied themselves another try by virtue of a forward pass and after the Rossendale scrum and hoof into touch, Mr. Charlton blew the final whistle on a thoroughly entertaining game, a considerable credit to both sides in the wet and windy, conditions.
Coach Fletcher commented. “Following some squad changes, I am delighted at the way the team maintains its shape and game management. We left probably another 15 points on the pitch, but in these conditions it was a job well done”.
Next week Lymm are at home for a first-ever meeting with the East Yorkshiremen from Pocklington. 2.15 p.m. KO.
Squad: 1) Jordan Widdrington, 2) Adam Bray (C), 3) Dan Horton, 4) Matty Connelly, 5) Joe Watson, 6) Sam Mullarkey, 7) Alli Sutherland, 8) Olli Higginson, 9) Andy Davies, 10) Scott Redfern, 11) Lucas Titherington, 12) Tom Bray, 13) James Kimber, 14) Richard McEvoy, 15) Cormac Nolan, 16) Matty Hand, 17) Ben Rees, 18) Jake Ashall.
Referee: Mr Dave Charlton – Northumberland